Genetics and Disease

Contributed by: Laurel Dierking, M.Ed., NFPT, 200YT

Did you know that you can influence your susceptibility to certain diseases with the very next bite of food you take? Most people know the importance of a well-balanced diet and its role in sustaining our health, energy levels, immunity, and overall functioning of the body. However, to what extent does what we eat influence our ability to stay disease free?

According to research from The Health Sciences Institute, genetic defects only account for about five percent of all human diseases (Antonarakis, Chakravarti, Cohen, Hardy, 2010). Genetics merely determine how susceptible a person is to a particular disease; it is our diet that ultimately influences the expression of our genetic coding. No longer can we blame entirely our health outcomes on our parents and grandparents.

The human body is resilient when it comes to dealing with matter such as processed foods, tobacco, harmful chemicals, artificial sweeteners, among other hard-to-digest substances that we ingest. Over time, however, persistent damage to cells and organs through malnutrition can lead to permanent damage of our body tissues. Our bodies are only able to maintain a certain level of homeostasis (the healthy balance of internal conditions within the body) depending on what is provided for fuel and support to ensure the correct functioning of our systems. This is indicative of most chronic diseases developing later in adulthood. For example, cancer often-times develops when a cell does not die, is unable to properly flush stored waste and becomes toxic, or is malfunctioning and loses the ability to communicate with other cells. When an unhealthy, or mutated cell does not self-destruct, the cells may grow and multiply into what then becomes a lump, or a tumor. Risk of diseases such as type II diabetes, cancer, heart disease, obesity, and stroke can be drastically reduced through a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated).

Not only is it critical for you to take ownership of the development and maintenance of your body, but it is important to realize that you have control over what comprises the structure of your cells; the very cells that are diligent in restructuring, maintaining function, and sustaining the organs driving your life force. Through mindfulness and awareness of your diet you can reduce your susceptibility to chronic diseases and take more control over your long-term health than ever thought before. An active lifestyle coupled with a nutritionally dense diet are two major ways to take charge and influence your longevity. It is never too late to get on track with your health. You can make a difference with your very next bite.

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